Chicago’s Pioneering Chef, Charlie Trotter, Steps Back
He has helped Chicago transform its fine dining scene for the past quarter of a century but he is going to close down his restaurant within eight months now. “Charlie Trotter’s”. Pioneering Chef, Charlie Trotter, has decided to step back and the announcement, which came on the first day of the New Year, is being seen as “bittersweet.” On his part, Charlie says he is closing down the restaurant because he wants to explore other avenues in life.
First opened in 1987, Charlie Trotter’s has been home to a number of upcoming chefs, who honed their culinary skills in its kitchen. The restaurant went from strength to strength even as its modernist competitors sprang all over Chicago. The mainstay of the restaurant was its menus – one European-style, one vegetarian tasting, and one raw-food tasting. Charlie even invited diners into his kitchen to watch the process of cooking and he was a true believer in procuring local farm products for his dishes.
Charlie refutes rumors that the decision to close down Charlie Trotter’s has anything to do with the fact that flashier restaurants are opening up in the neighborhood. He says that his choice is driven, not by the finances, but by his desire to spend time in pursuing other interests.
New Year Announcement
Charlie informed his staff and customers on Saturday, the New Year’s Eve, that he wanted to travel to new places and attend graduate classes in philosophy and political theory, which is why he was closing down. He said, “I can do this forever, and it’s most gratifying. That said, there are so many other things to do in life. Twenty-five years in this line of work is fantastic. It’s just time to step back, breathe deeply and do something different.” Having said that, the Chef did indicate that after pursuing everything else, he may return to open a new restaurant.
Local as well as national reaction to this announcement has been sentimental or surprising. People, who call Charlie everything, from a ‘quirky perfectionist’ to ‘a constant boundary pusher’ and ‘a sometimes difficult boss,’ has always been admired as a trailblazer, who influenced many new restaurants and chefs. As for Charlie himself, this is not the first time he has decided to close down. He said, “It’s not just like some overnight thing I’m doing. I did feel some pangs of sentimentality and nostalgia. On the other hand, full steam ahead.”
It is still eight months away but the closure of Charlie Trotter’s will certainly not remove the restaurant from public memory.
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